Here at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, we get to work with all kinds of appliances. Of all that we see, few are misunderstood more than the microwave oven. I recently had the chance to attend a Microwaves 101 course offered by the International Microwave Power Institute (IMPI) where I not only learned how these ovens work, but had a few popular myths debunked by Bob Schiffman, the President of IMPI who's been working with microwaves since 1961. Here's what you should know.
1. Myth: Microwaves cause cancer
While microwave ovens do transfer energy to food using electromagnetic waves, the waves are incapable of causing cancer and are less harmful than the sun's rays. They're also contained within the oven and stop transmitting the instant a cycle ends or the door is opened.
2. Myth: You can't microwave metal
While it's true there are certain metals you can't microwave (such as metal twist ties or solid metal pans), there are plenty of times metal can be helpful in the microwave. Thin strips of aluminum foil can be used to shield foods and prevent overcooking. It's especially handy for defrosting foods like ground beef, which can easily start to cook around the edges before the center has thawed.
3. Myth: Microwaves get hot
Microwaves transmit energy to foods that causes the food to heat. The evenness with which foods become hot is dependent upon a lot of factors. Typically, foods with a high water content (like veggies) heat at a slower rate and tend to cook more evenly. Salty and dry foods are hard to control and don't heat as well. Always stop and stir liquids frequently during heating.
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